Speciation Related Activities

On the classroom side of things, I have developed/modified the following assignments and activities in recent years in the hopes of highlighting the importance of Wallace and biogeography to evolutionary theory, and giving my students real world examples that they can work through to infer the process of speciation that Darwin and Wallace first uncovered.  Suggestions for improvement are welcome, as are posts of the assignments that you use to teach these concepts.


1) Wallace’s Line accompanying article Mr Wallace’s Line by Jared Diamond in Discover, August, 1997.


Although these activities don’t relate directly to Wallace’s travels in South America or the Malay Archipelago they are some of the activities that I have used to introduce plate tectonics and speciation.  The two activities on the Hawaiian Islands were adapted from activities and information from Evolution in Hawaii: A Supplement to Teaching about Evolution and the Nature of Science from the National Academies Press.  The Salamander Speciation activity was adapted from an adaptation of Investigation 9.4 in Biological Science: An Ecological Approach (BSCS Green Version), 1987, Kendall/Hunt Publishing Co.



Author: Eric Kessler

I am a high school teacher in the Blue Valley School District who has taught a Bioscience Research course at the district's Center for Advanced Professional Studies (CAPS) since 2010. Previous to this teaching gig I was at Blue Valley North High School where I taught freshman Biology and Honors Biology, Field Biology, Zoology, and AP Biology for the past 18 years.

2 thoughts on “Speciation Related Activities”

  1. Hey all. I have found a 3 1/2 minute video podcast titled “Evolution in Action” via iTunes, podcasts, science and medicine, PBS, Nova Vodcast, that would be great for closure after completing the Ensatina Salamander Speciation activity. It really make the activity real to since the students would get to see what the real live salamanders look like on a map like the one that they created. The date of broadcast was 10/31/ 2007.

    If you have a hard time finding it let me know.

  2. Eric,
    I appreciate the reviews on the books as well as your activities. The more knowledge of scientists I can give students that is beyond the “big idea” of their research creates more interest in their work. It also helps to break down preconceptions students often have of Charles Darwin and focus on the learning.

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